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"Tis in reversion that I do possess;
' That is, 'my grief is not conceit, because it either has not a cause like conceit, or it has a cause like conceit.' This can hardly stand, Let us try again, and read thus:
“For nothing hath begot my something grief;
Not something hath the nothing that I grieve :" That is, ‘my grief is not conceit; conceit is an imaginary uneasiness from some past occurrence.' But, on the contrary, here is 'real grief without a real cause; not a real cause with a fanciful sorrow. This, I think, must be the meaning ; harsh at the best, yet better than contradiction or absurdity. Johnson. 3. "Tis in reversion that I do possess ;
But what it is, that is not yet known, &c.] I am about to propose an interpretation which many will think harsh, and which I do not offer for certain. To possess a man, in Shakspeare, is to inform him fully, to make him comprehend. To be possessed, is to be fully informed. Of this sense the examples are numerous : “ I have possess'd him my most stay can be but short."
Measure for Measure. • Is he yet possess'd “ What sum you would ?" Merchant of Venice. I therefore imagine the Queen says thus :
“ 'Tis in reversion--that I do possess ;“ The event is yet in futurity”-that I know with full conviction
“ but what it is, that is not yet known.” In any other interpretation she must say that she possesses what is not yet come, which, though it may be allowed to be poetical and figurative language, is yet, I think, less natural than my explanation. JOHNSON.
As the grief the Queen felt, was for some event which had not yet come to pass, or at least not yet come to her knowledge, she expresses this by saying that the grief which she then actually possessed, was still in reversion, as she had no right to feel the grief until the event should happen which was to occasion it.
I hope, the king is not yet shipp'd for Ireland.
QUEEN. Now God in heaven forbid !
“Each one, by him enforc'd, retires his ward." Malone. s And all the rest of the revolted faction, traitors ?] The first quarto, 1597, reads :
“And all the rest revolted faction, traitors ? "
And Bolingbroke my sorrow's dismal heir 6 :
Bushy. Despair not, madam.
Who shall hinder me?
Queen. With signs of war about his aged neck;
my sorrow's dismal heir :) The author seems to have used heir in an improper sense, an heir being one that inherits by succession, is here put for one that succeeds, though he succeeds but in order of time, not in order of descent. Johnson.
Johnson has mistaken the meaning of this passage also. The Queen does not in any way allude to Bolingbroke's succession to the crown, an event, of which she could at that time have had no idea. She had said before, that some unborn sorrow, ripe in fortune's womb, was coming towards her.” She talks afterwards of her unknown griefs “ being begotten; ” she calls Green “ the midwife of her woe ; and then means to say, in the same metaphorical jargon, that the arrival of Bolingbroke was the dismal offspring that her foreboding sorrow was big of; which she expresses by calling him her "sorrow's dismal heir," and explains more fully and intelligibly in the following line : “ Now hath my soul brought forth her prodigy."
M. Mason. thou art the Midwife to my woe, And I, a gasping new-DELIVER'D mother, Have woe to woe, sorrow to sorrow join'd.] So, in Pericles : “ I am great with woe, and shall deliver weeping."
YORK. Should I do so, I should belie my
thoughts?: Comfort's in heaven; and we are on the earth, Where nothing lives but crosses, care, and grief. Your husband he is gone to save far off, Whilst others come to make him lose at home: Here am I left to underprop his land; Who, weak with age, cannot support myself Now comes the sick hour that his surfeit made; Now shall he try his friends that flatter'd him.
Enter a Servant.
it will ! The nobles they are fled, the commons they are
cold, And will, I fear, revolt on Hereford's side. Sirrah, get thee to Plashy', to my sister Gloster; Bid her send me presently a thousand pound:-Hold, take my ring. SERV. My lord, I had forgot to tell your lord
YORK. What is it, knave ?
7 Should I do so, I should belie my thoughts :) This line is found in the three eldest quartos, but is wanting in the folio.
STEBVENS. The nobles they are fled, the commons cold,] The old copies, injuriously to the metre, read : “ The nobles they are fed, the commons they are cold.”
STEEVENS. 9 Get thee to Plashy,] The lordship of Plashy, was a town of the dutchess of Gloster's in Essex." See Hall's Chronicle, p. 13. THEOBALD.
Comes rushing on this woeful land at once !
me. Go, fellow, [To the Servant.] get thee home, pro
vide some carts, And bring away the armour that is there.
[Exit Servant. Gentlemen, will you go muster men ? if I know How, or which way, to order these affairs, Thus disorderly thrust into my hands,
I-untruth ] That is, disloyalty, treachery. Johnson.
2 The king had cut off my head with my brother's.] None of York's brothers had his head cut off, either by the King or any one else. The Duke of Gloster, to whose death he probably alludes, was secretly murdered at Calais, being smothered between two beds. Ritson,
3 What, are there posts dispatch'd for Ireland ?] Thus the folio. The quartos--two posts-and-no posts. Steevens.
This line furnishes another specimen of the progress of corruption. In the second quarto, 1598, no being corrupted into two, the line appeared thus :
What, are there two posts dispatch'd for Ireland ?" and so it was exhibited in the quarto of 1608, and in that of 1615. The corrector of the press, by whom the sheets of the folio, 1623, were revised while they were printing, meeting with what doubtless appears very absurd, instead of looking out for the oldest copy, cut the knot, instead of attempting to untie it, and left out the substituted word two; and thus the verse became quite different from what the poet intended.
“What, are there posts dispatch'd for Ireland ? " What is still more extraordinary, this unquestionably erroneous reading is adopted by Mr. Steevens. Malone.
4 Come, sister,-cousin, I would say :) This is one of Shakspeare's touches of nature. York is talking to the Queen his cousin, but the recent death of his sister is uppermost in his mind.
Steevens. 5- disorderly thrust -) So all the old copies. Mr. Steevens silently altered it to "thrust disorderly." Boswell.